Decades: Looking Back/Moving Forward, 1920 – 1939

Posted on: November 2nd, 2023

Decades:

Looking Back/Moving Forward

1920 – 1939
December 15, 2023 – April 27, 2024

As we look forward to celebrating MMofA’s sixtieth anniversary in October 2024, we are launching an innovative series of exhibitions that will immerse our members and visitors in the art, history, and innovations of the decades leading up to the sixties. This trip through time is scheduled in experiential exhibitions of two decades each, and the second, 1920 – 1939, will open on December 15th.

The 1920s and 30s were a time of explosive change. The population of the United States increased significantly, and urban cities grew. The methods and means of transportation changed, and cars zoomed along the streets. Manufacturing helped make everyday items — like washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and cars — affordable for households. Women’s role in society, as well as fashion, changed dramatically, and cultural and artistic movements flourished. It was a time of boom and bust.

Visitors shouldn’t worry if they can’t remember their history lessons from the early twentieth century because we will have timelines on our walls tracing monumental events and what was happening in the art world at the same time.

The exhibition features artists such as Lamar Baker, Saul Berman, Fred Emanuel Shane, and Grant Wood along with historic dresses and accessories from the History Museum of Mobile’s collection. Historic photographs throughout the gallery have been generously provided by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society (HMPS) and the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

This Decades installation, as well as the exhibitions that precede and follow this iteration (all leading up to the extravaganza of the 60th anniversary!), will recreate what it was like to be alive then, not only experiencing political and historical events but navigating the personal lives of work, home, family, and leisure as well.

Support for this exhibition is provided by:

The J.L. Bedsole Foundation
City of Mobile
Alabama State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts

Spotlight: American South Consortium

Posted on: June 22nd, 2023

Spotlight: American South Consortium

March 23, 2023 – August 11, 2024

The American South Consortium is a multi-year partnership of Mobile Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT), the Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC), and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL). Working collaboratively, we created a series of exhibitions shaped by each of our collections to broaden the story of American art. (more…)

Decades: Looking Back/Moving Forward, 1900 – 1919

Posted on: May 2nd, 2023

Decades:

Looking Back/Moving Forward

1900 – 1919
June 16 – November 25, 2023

As we look forward to celebrating MMofA’s sixtieth anniversary in October 2024,  we are launching an innovative series of exhibitions that will immerse our members and visitors in the art, history, and innovations of the decades leading up to the sixties.  This trip through time is scheduled in experiential exhibitions of two decades each, and the first, 1900 – 1919 will open June 15th.

The period 1900 to 1919 was a time of change in the world and in art.  The Armory Show in New York City opened in 1913 and introduced many Americans to the first modern art they’d ever seen.  Our exhibition includes an homage to the Armory Show that will allow visitors to feel as if they’ve actually walked into the 69th Regiment Armory Building on Lexington Avenue and 25th Street and are witnessing art by the same artists who actually participated in that exhibition.

Also included in this installment of the Decades exhibitions are galleries exploring the country and cities as people moved from rural to urban areas for job opportunities; the changing roles of women in society leading up to winning the Constitutional right to vote; and a glimpse into how two artists with ties to Mobile reacted to modernism.

Visitors shouldn’t worry if they can’t remember their history lessons from the first two decades of the twentieth century because we will have timelines on our walls tracing big events and what was happening in the art world at the same time.  For added flavor, we’re screening silent films in our gallery cinema, including a movie shot from a vending cart as it travels streets crowded with more carts and kids and people everywhere.

This Decades installation, as well as the two that will follow it (all leading up to the extravaganza of the 60th anniversary!), will recreate what it was like to be alive then, not only experiencing political and historical events but navigating the personal lives of work, home, family and leisure as well.

Support for this exhibition is provided by:

The J.L. Bedsole Foundation
City of Mobile
Alabama State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts

Spotlight: Dusti Bongé

Posted on: February 27th, 2023

Spotlight: Dusti Bongé (1903 – 1993) 

March 23, 2023 – July 1, 2023 

Mobile Museum of Art presents Spotlight: Dusti Bongé, an exhibition presented by the American South Consortium exploring themes that speak to our nation’s shared histories and diverse regional identities.

The first of four Spotlight exhibitions from the American South Consortium, funded by a grant from the Art Bridges Foundation, will open March 23, 2023, at the Mobile Museum of Art. Featured will be paintings and works on paper by Mississippi’s first Modernist artist, Dusti Bongé. Bongé, born Eunice Lyle Swetman in 1903, lived and painted in Biloxi, Mississippi and exhibited her work in New York and New Orleans. She experimented with abstract art, surrealism, and abstract expressionism, for which she is most known. Bongé led an unorthodox life and career in relative obscurity. Her work is now receiving the recognition it deserves as equal to that of other well-known abstract expressionists, among them Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. 

The Mobile Museum of Art owns twenty-six Bongé works, five of which will be featured in the Spotlight exhibition. 

This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges Cohort Program. 

Support for this and all museum exhibitions and programs is provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mobile County and the City of Mobile

The above video is used by courtesy of Mississippi Public Broadcasting 

 

Artwork featured in thumbnail: Dusti Bongé, American (1903 – 1993), Distillate of the Past (Fragment of the Past), 1958. Oil on canvas, 54″ x 42″. Gift of the Dusti Bongé Foundation.

 

 

Terrell James: One Eye Sees, The Other Feels

Posted on: July 19th, 2022

Terrell James:
One Eye Sees, The Other Feels

September 16, 2022 — May 6, 2023

The Mobile Museum of Art proudly presents One Eye Sees, the Other Feels, which is the first solo Museum show for Southern artist Terrell James.

James is a fourth-generation Houstonian and seventh-generation Texan, and she is a graduate of Sewanee University. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.  She has had more than sixty solo exhibitions. In 2016, James received the Texas Artist of the Year Award from Art League Houston. James’s work is in collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Early in her career, she spent five years sorting and documenting the work of many artists and museums for the Texas Project of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. Terrell taught at the Glassell School, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for over fourteen years and served as chair of the Painting Department there.  She has been a guest professor at Rice University as well as served as the arts editor for several editions of Gulf Coast Journal of Art and Literature, the graduate publication of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston.

James’s exhibition for the Mobile Museum of Art is titled One Eye Sees, The Other Feels, a quotation from the writings of Swiss artist Paul Klee. It features more than thirty abstract works, including drawings and paintings ranging in size from small to monumental.

This exhibition helps meet two goals of the Museum’s five-year institutional strategic plan — one, to focus on the art of our place, and second, the art of our time. Terrell James: One Eye Sees, The Other Feels is generously supported by the Crampton Trust, established by Katharine Crampton Cochrane. The Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the City of Mobile support all Museum exhibitions and programs. One Eye Sees, The Other Feels will be on view at the Mobile Museum of Art from September 16, 2022, through April 2, 2023.

Artwork featured in thumbnail: Above Below, 2018. Oil on Canvas, 66 in x 66 in. Collection of the Artist.

 

Wanda Sullivan: Gardens of Hope

Posted on: July 18th, 2022

Wanda Sullivan:
Gardens of Hope

September 16, 2022 — May 6, 2023

Gardens of Hope is the first solo museum exhibition of Wanda Sullivan’s work. She has lived in Mobile since third grade. She loves flowers and is an avid gardener. Most of her imagery comes from her large midtown yard or the campus of Spring Hill College, where she teaches and maintains a studio.

Sullivan received her BFA from the University of South Alabama and her MFA in painting from the University of Mississippi. She has exhibited her work nationally in galleries and museums, including the Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans; Alabama Contemporary Art Center in Mobile; Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA; the Wichita Center for the Arts in Wichita, KS; Santa Clara University Gallery in Santa Clara, CA; and the Xavier University Gallery in Cincinnati, OH.

In Gardens of Hope, Sullivan examines the intersection between the natural world, her gardens, and the effects of climate change. About the flowers and nature featured in her work, Sullivan says, “My flowers are beautiful, but they are monsters—contemporary, biomorphic Frankensteins. They are designed to seduce the viewer and lure them in, just like our dependency on fossil fuels, phones, tablets, and computers do.”

This exhibition helps meet two goals of the Museum’s five-year institutional strategic plan — one, to focus on the art of our place, and second, the art of our time. Wanda Sullivan: Gardens of Hope is generously supported by the Crampton Trust, established by Katharine Crampton Cochrane. The Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the City of Mobile support all Museum exhibitions and programs. Gardens of Hope will be on view at the Mobile Museum of Art from September 16, 2022, through April 2, 2023.


WANDA SULLIVAN: Gardens of Hope

Produced in conjunction with the exhibition, this publication reproduces the artwork in the exhibition and photographs of Wanda’s personal garden where she draws much of her inspiration. Deborah Velders wrote the introduction, and art historian LaVada Raouf provided an essay.

Available for purchase in The Art Store with shipping options available

 

Artwork featured in thumbnail: Purple Gladiolus II, 2021. Oil on panel, 30 x 30 x 2 18 in. Collection of the Artist.

 

3 American Artists

Posted on: February 8th, 2022

3 American Artists

May 3, 2022 – May 14, 2023

Mobile Museum of Art presents 3 American Artists, an exhibition showcasing the work of three renowned African American artists: Mark Bradford, Barkley L. Hendricks, and Glenn Ligon. These artworks are loans from the collection of the Art Bridges Foundation.

This exhibition features artists who have defined the art world through their works that focus largely on themes of race, gender, sexual identity, class, and pop culture.

The Art Bridges Foundation is a private operating foundation whose mission is to increase access to American art across the U.S. Established by arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton, Art Bridges supports museums of all sizes to provide collection loans, traveling exhibitions, multidisciplinary programming, and more in order to further connect museums and their local communities.

Mark Bradford is a Los Angeles-based artist best known for his large-scale abstract paintings and collages exploring the effects of class, race, and gender on urban society. On view at MMofA will be Bradford’s monumental collage Thelxiepeia, named for a mythological Greek siren and made of tissue-like endpapers used by hairdressers.

The late Barkley L. Hendricks (American, 1945-2017), an American painter and photographer, is known for his life-sized realist paintings of Black Americans. In Brenda P — thought to be Brenda Payton of the Philadelphia R&B group Brenda and the Tabulations — his subject confidently stands with hands attached to her hips, decked out in classic 1970s fashion.

Glenn Ligon uses text and light in his conceptual works to explore race, language, desire, sexuality, and identity. Untitled (I Am Somebody) references a 1950s poem written by civil rights activist Reverend William Holmes Borders and later popularized by Reverend Jesse Jackson.

3 American Artists was made possible through the generous support from Art Bridges. Support for this, and all museum exhibitions and programs, is provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the City of Mobile.

About the Art Bridges Foundation
Art Bridges is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton and is dedicated to expanding access to American art in all regions across the United States. Since 2017, Art Bridges has been creating and supporting programs that bring outstanding works of American art out of storage and into communities. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of nearly 150 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, collection loans from Art Bridges and other museums, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Collection features American masterworks of historic American art to the present day and encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, among other mediums. For more information on who we reach and how to partner with us, visit www.ArtBridgesFoundation.org and follow us @ArtBridgesFoundation.

 

 

100 Years of Art From The Collection

Posted on: March 11th, 2021

This exhibition offers “snapshots” of the Museum’s permanent collection presenting art, design, and crafts produced in each of the 10 decades (100 years) between 1913 and 2013.

Any given decade may include diverse, and often divergent works related only by having been created during the same 10-year time period. Any section might combine crafts, fine art, “folk” (self-taught) art, and designed objects presented in unusual or unexpected juxtapositions. The installation is designed to provide fresh perspectives and insights about the works shown and the timeframes in which they were created.

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

Posted on: June 17th, 2020

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

January 16 – December 31, 2021

Mobile Museum of Art brings the iconic photographs by Gordon Parks during the Jim Crow era back to the city where they were captured with the special exhibition, Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956.

This exhibition of photographs documents the everyday activities and rituals of one extended black family, the Thorntons, in Mobile and Shady Grove, Alabama, during segregation. The images were originally published in a 1956 photo essay by Parks, an assignment from Life magazine after the Montgomery bus boycotts, but have come to be known around the world for helping to inspire the Civil Rights movement.

In an essay accompanying the portfolio of photographs Segregation Story produced in 2012 by The Gordon Parks Foundation, noted American cultural historian and art critic Maurice Berger explains,

“These quiet, compelling photographs elicit a reaction that Parks believed was critical to undoing racial prejudice: empathy. Throughout his career, he endeavored to help viewers, white and black, understand and share the feelings of others. It was with this goal in mind that he set out to document the lives of the Thornton family, creating images meant to alter the way Americans viewed one another and, ultimately, themselves.”

These photographs are lent to MMofA by the Gordon Parks Foundation.

 Exhibition generously underwritten by Mobile County Commissioner, Merceria Ludgood

Title 1 school program support for the project from the Altmayer Foundation

Community Programming support by Mobile City Council members:  Joel Daves (District 5), Gina Gregory (District 7), Bess Rich (District 6), Frederick D. Richardson, Jr. (District 1), C.J. Small (District 3), and John C. Williams (District 4).  Mr. Williams will support a lecture by Dr. John Edwin Mason, author of an upcoming book on Gordon Parks.


Content created for the special exhibition

Toward Equal Justice: A Conversation

Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

Generous support for these videos provided by Art Bridges.


Gallery guides provided

Toward Equal Justice: A Legacy of Resistance, Sacrifice, and Service
Timeline of Mobile Civil Rights events and African American history created in conjunction with special exhibition, Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956.

NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS TIMELINE: A Selection of Some of the Movement’s Most Important Events

GORDON PARKS: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956

 

 

BESA: A Code of Honor

Posted on: November 13th, 2019

BESA: A Code of Honor

January 17, 2020 – December 31, 2020

All photographs in this exhibition are by Norman H. Gershman

BESA: A Code of Honor is about the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ – non-Jews who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust. It is comprised of portraits and texts about Muslim families in Albania, who saved Jews during the Holocaust, converging between two seemingly opposed worlds. The remarkable assistance afforded to Jews during this time is grounded in BESA, the code of honor which still exists today. This help should be understood as a matter of national honor. These acts originated from compassion, loving kindness and a desire to help those in need – even those of another faith or origin.


Albania, a small and mountainous country on the southeast coast of the Balkan peninsula, was home to a population of 803,000. Of those only two hundred were Jews. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, many Jews found refuge in Albania. No accurate figures exist regarding their number; however, different sources estimate that 600-1,800 Jewish refugees entered that country from Germany, Austria, Serbia, Greece and Yugoslavia, in the hope to continue on to the Land of Israel or other places of refuge.

Following the German occupation in 1943, the Albanian population, in an extraordinary act, refused to comply with the occupier’s orders to turn over lists of Jews residing within the country’s borders. Moreover, the various governmental agencies provided many Jewish families with fake documentation that allowed them to intermingle amongst the rest of the population. The Albanians not only protected their Jewish citizens, but also provided sanctuary to Jewish refugees who had arrived in Albania, when it was still under Italian rule, and now found themselves faced with the danger of deportation to concentration camps.

The remarkable assistance afforded to the Jews was grounded in Besa, a code of honor which still today serves as the highest ethical code in the country. Besa, means literally “to keep the promise.” One who acts according to Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family.

The help afforded to Jews and non-Jews alike should be understood as a matter of national honor. The Albanians went out of their way to provide assistance; moreover, they competed with each other for the privilege of saving Jews. These acts originated from compassion, loving-kindness and a desire to help those in need, even those of another faith or origin.

Albania, the only European country with a Muslim majority, succeeded in the place where other European nations failed. Almost all Jews living within Albanian borders during the German occupation, those of Albanian origin and refugees alike, were saved, except members of a single family. Impressively, there were more Jews in Albania at the end of the war than beforehand.

For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations, visit the American Society for Yad Vashem website>>

About this exhibition, al.com says:

“In a world that tends to focus on extraordinary heroes wearing capes and wielding amazing powers, it’s good to be reminded that heroes can be very ordinary people too.”

Sponsored by:
Gulf Coast Center for the Holocaust and Human Rights Education
Mobile Area Jewish Federation
Mobile Jewish Film Festival
City of Mobile